If you have a moment, I’d like you to sit in the driver seat of those experiencing grief.
Grief is anchor that lives with you forever. As painful events happen, the heavier that anchor gets. Grief is an overwhelming emotional spectrum and with it comes the inevitable ups and down. There is no linear path to healing from grief because grief comes and goes in cycles. It never goes away. You learn how to live with it.
One moment that famed smile of yours is shining through. The day’s gone well and you’ve actually had a great day! You woke up happy, you cooked breakfast, you nailed those client calls. You made those around you laugh, you jammed out to your favorite song multiple times. There’s this hope inside your mind that maybe, just maybe, things are looking up. And for a brief second, it feels like life is starting to come together. But here comes your good old friend grief to remind you how much you have lost. That mood goes from happy to sad in less than a second.
You don’t understand because you were doing so well lately. This shouldn’t be happening. That’s when the memories flood back. You never forgot them. You just pushed them so far into your mind, they went into hibernation and it’s time for them to wake up.
You become angry and resentful for what was lost: the life that person didn’t get to live, the children they didn’t get to have, the memories and adventures you don’t get to experience with them. But that’s only the start.
You start to blame yourself for what they endured (especially if you are parent who has lost a child) You wonder if just one factor changed would they still be alive? You wonder if you were more loving, more attentive, more active if it could have been avoided. You go over hundreds of scenarios in your mind and it cripples you because you’re helpless to these emotions.
It’s disheartening. You realize if you stay this angry it will only lead to a lifelong downward spiral. For parents that have other children, they still have to press on and be strong. They neglect their emotional needs because in a sick twist, they still have to raise their other children to be capable, loving, and caring all while still trying to grieve properly. But that is just the appetizer.
Then comes the crippling depression and isolation. You know you need others, but you don’t want to burden them because you feel they’ve already heard enough. You think “they don’t want to hear it again”
Grieving is about your mental health whether you believe it or not. So you sink further and further into the mire that is your tears and false fronts. You put up wall after wall after wall not knowing that it’s you who has to climb back over them in the end to heal properly.
Now you may begin to think “well how in the world am I supposed to know if they’re hurting?” The answer is: YOU DON’T.
We’ve become so adept and artistic in masking our grief that you’d think we are healing. But that smile we’ve perfected is probably the tell all sign they’re going through much more than you think. We go through stages of grief differently. You never what stage someone is currently on. Understand, this is a life-long process
If you know someone that has lost a loved one not a day ago, not just a couple weeks ago, nor a couple months ago; I’m talking years ago. Understand, it’s painful and that person is having to undergo a complete metamorphosis because whoever they used to be, they aren’t that person anymore and you can’t expect that person to come back.
When you understand that they’re having to heal and still lead life while not breaking down, it’ll give you a new outlook on their life.
But it’s even harder for those who have lost multiple kids or family member within years of each other. It seems as if that anchor becomes heavier. You’re crying for help but it’s muffled because you’re already drowning in anxiety, fear, depression, exhaustion, discouragement.
But when someone reaches out to help and follows through that anchor because a little lighter. It becomes a little easier to breath. It becomes a little easier to grieve. Those are the people grieving people are looking for.
The grieving will pull themselves out by any means necessary, but everyone needs help to get out of those places. If you can, put on their seatbelt and drive their life for a couple miles. You’ll see that for them, even those couple of miles, is like driving across the country.